Concerning the passage by the NCAA of Proposition 42 (A New Proposition, Jan. 23), I agree with John Chaney that "even a deficient student should have the opportunity to get an education." The problems of the inner cities are not going to be solved by keeping higher education for the privileged and the elite. At UNLV, where I am a student, I have seen many athletes benefit from the leadership of basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and from the enrichment of college life. Yes, some did not receive their degrees, but many of those athletes have become successful members of our community. Proposition 48 gives a talented athlete the chance to decide whether he wants to work hard to correct his academic deficiencies. Proposition 42 only gives the omnipotent NCAA another opportunity to exercise its discriminatory and unfair policies.
John Chaney writes, "When a freshman in college can't read or write, it isn't because he suddenly became unable." Perfect shot in the foot, John. By admitting that colleges are enrolling illiterates, you are acknowledging that athletics have become more important than education. By opposing Prop 42, you are advocating the compromise of academic standards under the guise of equal opportunity.
DANIEL E. NELSON
Fair Oaks, Calif.
Prop 42 sends a message to all school administrators and teachers: Teach! More important, it sends this message to all students: Learn and study if you expect to participate in college athletics.
Not only have the 49ers won three Super Bowls (Joe Cool, Jan. 30), but they've also done it on the three networks—CBS in 1982, ABC in '85 and NBC in '89.
In editing my letter about Ohio State donors (Jan. 9), SI mistakenly changed former Buckeye All-America Jim Lachey's current team from the Redskins to the Chargers.
DAVID S. NICOLLS
Director, Athletic Development
Ohio State University
It bothers me that Kareem Abdul-Jab-bar is being criticized in his final NBA season (An Unhappy Ending, Jan. 23). Granted his numbers are down, but he has accepted his diminished role with grace and dignity. He should be receiving congratulations and thanks.
Abdul-Jabbar has played basketball for 33 years. Now that he's in his 20th year in the NBA and finally slowing down (most players slow down a decade earlier), people are trying to make him retire for the good of the team. What is wrong with taking on a lesser role for the team? It's absurd to think that the Lakers will ever come close to winning a championship without Kareem.
Your selection of Orel Hershiser as Sportsman of the Year (Dec. 19) was appropriate, but you failed to mention O's work with charitable organizations in his community. When the 28-year-old son of the Dodgers' longtime Spanish broadcaster, Jaime Jarrin, died suddenly in February of an aneurysm, Hershiser, along with Rene Cardenas, another Dodger Spanish broadcaster, established the James Patrick Jarrin Scholarship Fund for deserving Hispanic students. It is clear that Hershiser's values reach beyond his own family.
MICHAEL D. HOLLIDAY
Melbourne Beach, Fla.
My teenage son and I were en route to the All-Star Game last July when he became ill and had to have an emergency appendectomy in a hospital across the river from Cincinnati. Mr. Hershiser learned about Joe's long-planned but now messed-up vacation and telephoned him at the hospital. It seems Hershiser had had a similar operation just before the start of spring training. His phone call made one young man's day a special one. We feel you were right on the mark for this year's choice for Sportsman of the Year.
BARBARA GOOTEE RAGSDALE
I enjoyed your article about Frank Lay-den, the Henny Youngman of professional basketball (Tired of All That Jazz, Dec. 26-Jan. 2). When a native New Yorker becomes concerned about the vi-ciousness of fans, you know we are in trouble. Layden's suggestion that the problem may stem from the high salaries paid to players and the high prices of tickets tells me Layden has been so immersed in building a respectable team in Salt Lake City that he has lost sight of what is happening in society. If he wants to see vicious, I suggest he attend a youth-sports activity in which admission is free and the players are unpaid. What he will see is baiting of officials (generally young men trying to earn some spending money), verbal posturing by the coaches, intimidation attempts by the players and a "kill the umpire" crowd.